Is AI good or bad for video games?

Terminator glowing red eyes
Is AI good for the future of gaming or not? (pic: Nacon)

The Tuesday letters page looks forward to getting a cheap PS5 during Black Friday, as one reader explores the history of Castlevania.

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Artificial benefits
Every time I hear about AI I start thinking, ‘Yeah, cool! Finally, we can get really realistic and sensible enemies, and non-player characters that talk to you like they’re real.’ And yet all that ever happens is that companies are finding new ways to put people out of their jobs or steal their work.

I guess that’s capitalism for you but it’s getting kind of depressing, because obviously it’s not just video games that are being affected like this. This new deal Xbox has going on sounds like it might do some of the things I’m talking about but the difference between what these companies say and what they do is usually pretty immense.

The best case scenario is that AI can help to speed up development, so that games don’t longer and longer to make each generation. This could be the answer to the problem of increasing game prices and development times, solving the issue for everyone and not just Microsoft.

The worst case scenario is that it’s all just a smokescreen and they’re just going to eat away at people’s jobs more and more until there’s just one guy typing ‘Making a FPS where you shoot terrorists’ into ChatGPT. You can properly flip a coin as to which it is.

Away from it all
With all these bundles and trying to get rid of old stock of the original PlayStation 5 I’m hoping to pick one up this month, during Black Friday, and I’m getting pretty excited. I realise Sony is in an odd position right now, and so is Microsoft for that matter, but at the end of the day it’s all about the games you play and now the nights are drawing in I’m looking forward to playing Spider-Man 2, Returnal, God Of War Ragnarök and all the other next gen games I’ve only been reading about the last couple of years.

I know it’s easy to get disillusioned with games companies and the way they act but we shouldn’t get caught up in it. Every company is awful once it gets to a certain size and I intend to ignore all that once I get my new console and just enjoy the games and allow them to transport me to another world, where cold nights and idiot business execs don’t exist.

Finals word
Did you guys (or any other GCers) manage to check out the open beta for The Finals? Really interested to hear your thoughts on it. For me it was the most fun I’ve had in a first person shooter since Battlefield: Bad Company 2, the destruction elements were a riot and I couldn’t resist having one more go. The sound and building designs felt great and the maps allowing multi-directional movement without fall damage, plus the jump pads, etc. created some quite slick gameplay.

Someone on Reddit said it was like Bad Company 2 and Mirror’s Edge had a baby, and that’s probably not a bad starter for a description.

Anyway, I look forward to your review when the game releases. Keep up the most excellent gaming coverage in the meantime.
Tincanmemory (gamertag/PSN ID)

GC: Thank you. We did play The Finals but not for as long as we’d like. We’ll try and have something on it soon.

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Some kind of hack
So I did it, I took the plunge and applied the Game Pass hack. I know everyone says ‘Do it, it’s simple and a steal’ but there’s always the doubt that when you do it it’ll not work. Well, it did. Only got the 12 months, which converted to eight months of Ultimate. My next bill is July 2024, which will be cancelled long before then!

A quick tip, Xbox Live, which doesn’t even exist anymore (it’s now called Game Pass Core) from CDkeys says compatible with Xbox One and Xbox 360, however it’s totally fine to use on the newer Series consoles. The Xbox Live cost £34.99 and the Game Pass Ultimate subscription cost £1 for two weeks, which I thought they kind of cancelled, but seems to be back. So all said and done, Game Pass Ultimate for eight months was 36 quid.
big boy bent
PS: Now, back to not-Yakuza, Like A Dragon: Ishin! And I may download Jusant.

GC: We’re not sure anyone that’s not already done it is going to have any idea what you’re talking about.

How things used to be
The way Sony are handling the news about The Last Of Us multiplayer game is getting kind of ridiculous now. I’m guessing they have internet access at PlayStation HQ, so they know what we know, and that everyone thinks it’s been cancelled or is so bad they’ve had to rethink it, so why not say something and try and calm the storm?

The director talking on Twitter was the mildest thing possible and yet still I imagine he was risking his job saying anything at all. I just want all this radio silence nonsense to be over and we get some new trailers and a release date and then we can just settle down to wait in hopeful anticipation. You know, like the good old days.

Akumajō Dracula
With the recent(-ish) release of Castlevania Nocturne, and the latest revival of Hammer Studios, I had an article published at The Conversation looking at their links.

As fans know, Christopher Lee, star of most of Hammer’s Dracula films, is listed as ‘playing’ the world’s most famous vampire in the game’s credits (‘Belo’ Lugosi is given the lesser role of Death). Lee was well known by this point, so it’s a reference that’s easy to shrug off, but even the lesser known director of the film, Terrence Fisher, is given a shout out through the game’s director ‘Trans Fishers’.

The reason for this? Lee became the presiding version of Dracula in Japan, thanks to the novel not arriving until after World War 2, and Hammer’s films being repeated on television. It’s a great example of how games aren’t produced in a cultural vacuum – they respond to the world around them.
Dr Matt Crofts

One hit wonder
That is really weird, Fortnite suddenly being the most popular it’s ever been after years of seeming to be on the way out and Epic sacking all those people just a few months ago. The power of nostalgia, like you said.

There must be kids growing up today who have been playing live service games like Minecraft and Fortnite for their entire lives, so no wonder Sony and others want to get in on the action. The fact that only a tiny percentage of the games are that popular apparently doesn’t seem to matter to them. It’s like the opposite of ‘it’ll never happen to me’ – they all thing their game is going to be the mega hit and everyone else’s will flop.

Gun free zone
Ran into an annoying bug in Alan Wake 2 today. As I find the combat such dog faeces, I’ve taken to running past as much as possible.

But to my dismay a couple of apparitions tailed me into the hub area of Bright Falls, where your gun is put away and you can’t engage in combat for many areas of it.

I tried losing them by running as far away from them as possible but they’re good trackers. Going to a new area and back, and also closing and restarting the game, didn’t throw them off the scent.

Essentially what I have to do is get them to follow me to a place just outside a no guns allowed area and deal with them there. But didn’t want to waste the ammo so just been trying to keep out of their way.

But I’ll have no choice as they keep showing up in the middle of story beats, like in the video below (spoiler alert). Saga’s finger guns ain’t fooling this fella.

I’m finding the game a real mixed bag. The combat, awful. The light exploration and puzzling was diverting at first but I’m bored of it now and the rewards so far haven’t been anything too amazing. Following the main story thread, fantastic.

I’m going to just play the story and hope it gives me enough resources from here on in.

GC: The video was set to private.

Inbox also-rans
In response to Wonk, in the name of Mr John McClane, I would simply say ‘Yippee-ki-yay kemosabe’.

So are we resigned to the idea that GTA 6 won’t get its first trailer this year after all? I can’t see Rockstar wanting to share the stage with anyone at The Game Awards so they’ve kind of run out of time in 2023.

This week’s Hot Topic
With this year’s Call Of Duty due out his week, the subject for this weekend’s Inbox asks which is your favourite entry in the franchise and do you consider yourself a fan?

Call Of Duty has been one of the most popular video game series in the world for over two decades now but what do you think of it and do you feel it deserves its success?

How many of the games have you played and what do you think are the best and worst ones? How would you like to see the franchise evolve in the future and do you think it will ever see a major decline in popularity?

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The small print
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